RAILROADS: Rolling Rents

Champ Carry, the hefty (6 ft., 220 Ibs.) president of Pullman, Inc. took an agonized look at his freight-car orders one day last fall. The big postwar backlog of freight-car orders had nearly disappeared, and Pullman's three freight-car plants had all but shut down. Yet Carry knew that U.S. railroads needed freight cars; more than half of the 1,762,239 cars in the U.S. are rattling antiques more than 20 years old. There was plenty of business if Carry could find" someone with the money to finance car buying for the cash-short railroads.

Carry found his man in white-thatched, pink-cheeked Thomas...